Melting snowpack won’t help Anoka County’s drought

Melting winter snowfall won’t do much to alleviate the extremely dry soil conditions across Minnesota, even if some areas experience spring flooding, said Greg Spoden, the state climatologist (YouTube report).

Anoka County is in severe drought. All of the snow that has fallen over the winter by and large remains on top of a largely frozen landscape. Despite winter precipitation – soil moisture remains near all-time lows. As the spring melt comes, the sun’s energy will melt the snow first that will run off into storm sewers, streams and rivers instead of being absorbed by the soil.  “First the snow has to leave before the soil unfreezes,” Spoden said.

Abundant spring rain is needed to recharge the soil. The average March through May rainfall in Minnesota ranges from six to eight inches. “If we get at least that, we’ll be fine for the spring planting season,” Spoden said. “But to replenish those desperately dry subsoils, we’ll have to exceed that six- to eight-inch amount.”

The latest outlook from the Climate Prediction Center, a branch of the National Weather Service, calls for above average precipitation from March through May for the eastern half of Minnesota. See the latest drought conditions here.

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